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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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For Immediate Release
December 16, 2004

Illinois school superintendent recommends
retaining college entrance exam as part of state tests

Offers equal access for all students

Chicago, Ill. – Interim State Superintendent of Schools Randy Dunn recommended to the State Board of Education today that the state retain a college entrance exam as part of the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE), the annual test required for 11th grade students in Illinois.

“We met with educators throughout the state to get their input. While we heard a number of different opinions, in our final analysis we believe it’s important that the State maintain its high standards for all students,” said Dunn. “It gives all students in Illinois access to a free college entrance exam, which for many kids is the only way they’ll be able to take one. We want to give encouragement and opportunity to every student in Illinois to continue his or her education.”

In 2003, two years after incorporating the ACT exam into the PSAE, the number of graduating seniors taking the ACT in Illinois jumped by 51 percent. In that same two year period, Illinois’ average ACT composite score rose from 20.1 to 20.3. That score is comparable to averages from other states where not all students are required to take the ACT, and those who do take it are generally college-bound.

The National Assessment Governing Board has recommended that all states assess students on their ability to enter the workforce or continue with their education before they leave high school. Because of the increased demands of the global economy and the high-levels of literacy required by most jobs, students must leave high school with enhanced skills in order to be competitive in college and the workforce.

After formal approval by the State Board, the agency will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for administering the college entrance exam. The state’s current contract with ACT Incorporated ends June 30, 2005.

In addition to the college entrance exam and the workplace skills test in reading and mathematics, Illinois’ PSAE includes a science content test developed by ISBE in collaboration with Illinois teachers to comprehensively measure student outcomes against the Illinois Learning Standards for reading, mathematics and science.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777